David Leggat pauses to stretch his legs while on one of Australia's most picturesque road journeys, between Melbourne and Adelaide.


Even if you've never hopped on a surfboard, a stop at the Surf World Museum in Torquay, a sand-between-the-toes town, five minutes' drive from famous Bells Beach, is a must-see. The museum opened in December 1993 and the promotional information describes it as "riding a wave of history" at the world's largest surf museum. The important historic points have been displayed here, ranging from the Hawaiian legend Duke Kahanamoku, through Kelly Slater and six-time world champion Layne Beachley.

There's also a neat tribute to the Combi van, part and parcel of the surf scene.

Curator Craig Baird has his one special pride-of-place item he'd save in a fire. Known as Simon's Original Thruster, for designer Simon Anderson, it's the first board to have three fins and dates back to 1981. It is, Baird said, the most-produced board in history. The development "was like putting wings on a Formula One car". Priced at $30 for a family of four.


Australia's renowned surf beach (right), home to the annual Rip Curl event every April. For Australian surfers, Bells Beach is something akin to a trip to the Sydney Cricket Ground for cricket tragics. Homage should be paid to the spiritual home of surfing. From elevated platforms, the view either way is splendid, and even on a recent murky mid-week morning, around 50 surfers were on their boards. It's a sport/passion for all ages.

A few kilometres past picturesque Apollo Bay, and good value at $25 an adult. It included what it says, a steel canopy walkway, which takes visitors into the tree tops. At the top, beside the twisting, narrow steps up to the highest point, there's a cantilevered arm - "don't worry it's supposed to sway" - for those with a strong disposition. There's a flying fox, abseiling, and a walk through the cool damp of the rain forest, with 20 points of interest. An impressive operation.

The Otway Fly Tree Top Walk is not for the faint-hearted. Photo / 123RF
The Otway Fly Tree Top Walk is not for the faint-hearted. Photo / 123RF


Part of the treat about visiting this modern wonder is trying to spot the 12. Depending on how good your eyesight is, you'll see anything between eight and 10. The helicopter view is brilliant, taken from the "other" side, facing the rock wall. Cost is about $90 for 15-20 minutes, so not cheap, but if you fancy treating yourself, you won't be disappointed.

Spend a night at - reputedly - the oldest inn in Victoria. The meal is outstanding. It boasts a quaint little house bar and is a building of nooks and crannies; loaded with character. Port Fairy hosts the best annual folk festival in Australia over a long weekend in March and there are five high-end fashion shops in an otherwise low-key town. A one-hour walk past the mutton bird colony to the lighthouse and round the coastline is highly recommended.

It doesn't sound sexy but it is fascinating. We're in Mt Gambier, on the South Australian side of the border with Victoria. It is a large lake filling a crater from an extinct volcano. The Blue Lake's most dramatic feature is the changing water colour. Each November, the water changes to an intense cobalt blue before reverting to a dull grey in March. The lake is 70ha and 76m deep. While there, pop in to the Umpherston Sinkhole, which sounds grim but its other name, the Sunken Garden, is more appropriate. It was created when the top of a cave collapsed because of dissolution of the limestone. It was turned into a picturesque garden in the late 1880s with steps to the bottom, and is an ideal rest spot. Entry is free.

Get to the Coonawarra region and your glass will be permanently topped up. Pop into Wynns - the daddy of the dozens of operations in the area - where you can try to match the taste of one of their award-winning wines by blending shiraz, merlot and cabernet sauvignon. You'll get white coats, beakers and a few tips, then off you go. Great fun.

Blend your own wine in Coonawarra. Photo / 123RF
Blend your own wine in Coonawarra. Photo / 123RF



A pleasant seaside town, Robe has blended its past with its modern shops. It's a nice spot to stop and five minutes' from Fayrefield House, a beautifully restored mansion in a bush setting. There are three large bedrooms, and it's the sort of place you feel you should remove your shoes upon entering.

We're a bit past the end of the Great Ocean Road, but no journey to Adelaide would be complete without stopping in this slightly undersold wine region. Certainly its name doesn't rank alongside, say, Barossa, but it's no worse for that. Plenty of options in where you taste - such as Samuel's Gorge, which is operated out of an old blacksmith's stables - and dine, and the town also boasts one of the better tourist information centres you'll see.

Around 45 minutes' drive out of Adelaide, this is a fabulous, must-do spot for lunch with a spectacular clifftop location. It's not a Greek taverna but a restaurant named for an iron cargo ship that went down in a storm in 1888 as she set sail for Britain. At low tide, parts of the wreck are still visible. The food is beautifully presented with a Mediterranean theme. Perhaps the best meal in a week of wining and dining.


For more information: Visit visitmelbourne.com, southaustraliaplaylist.co.nz
The writer travelled courtesy of Tourism Australia.